Pumpkin Banana Squares with Chocolate Chips and Peanut Butter

Pumpkin spice season is back in full force! As much as we try to deny it, I think the majority of us shamelessly love curling up with a warm and cozy pumpkin spice anything. Pumpkin itself is full of health benefits, as are the traditional “pumpkin” spices. But, all the pumpkin spice products you’ll find in coffee shops and on grocery store shelves may be full of added sugars and other ingredients that negate the nutrition benefits you’ll get from the good stuff. For example:

  • Starbucks Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte: Has 4 grams saturated fat and 48 grams of added sugar. That is more sugar than a can of Coke! For a visual, 48 grams of sugar = 12 teaspoons of sugar, or 12 sugar packets! I doubt you all would add that many packets to your regular coffee at Starbucks.
  • Pillsbury Pumpkin Quick Bread Mix: This quick bread mix has 15 grams of sugar per serving. Sugar is also the first ingredient listed on the label, meaning it is the most abundant ingredient in the mix. These pre-made mixes are also full of preservatives, dyes and unnecessary ingredients.
  • Whole Foods 365 Pumpkin Spice Granola: This granola has 3 kinds of added sugars listed in the ingredients, plus the dried fruits included are processed with sugar.

After making my blender banana bread the first time, I started dreaming up a pumpkin version. The cooler temperatures were begging for a cozier version of this treat! This recipe is very similar to my blender banana bread. It has minimal, nutrient-dense ingredients, is easy to make using just your blender, and tastes incredible!

Here are some of the highlighted ingredients:

And the nutrition breakdown:

  • Canned pumpkin: I wish pumpkin and winter squash were seasonal all year round! Pumpkin is high in fiber, which helps with digestion and may help lower elevated cholesterol. It is also rich in Vitamin A, so it supports healthy vision, skin and immune system. Make sure the only ingredient is pumpkin when buying canned pumpkin.
  • Chosen Foods Avocado Oil: I just recently started using avocado oil, and it’s become my favorite oil to cook with (along with good old olive oil). Avocado oil has a similar fat profile to olive oil, so it is very high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats and low in saturated fat. Avocado oil is better than olive oil for high heat cooking, because the smoke point is 500 degrees F. This means the fats in the oil will not oxidize into harmful substances at temperatures lower than 500 degrees. It also has a mild, neutral taste and odor, making it extremely versatile.
  • Peanut Butter: This is one of my pantry staples! Peanut butter is an inexpensive source of plant based protein and healthy fats. Nuts and legumes are also rich in micronutrients such as potassium and magnesium. Studies show that including this food group in your diet on a regular basis is linked to maintaining a healthy body weight. Make sure your peanut butter only has one ingredient – peanuts!

I hope you guys are ready to embrace pumpkin spice! It’s going to be hard to share these RD approved squares with everyone, but I know you’ll all be nice 🙂

Ingredients:

½ cup mashed very ripe banana (one medium banana)

½ cup pumpkin puree

2 large eggs

3 tbsp Chosen Foods Avocado Oil

3-4 tbsp maple syrup or honey (can use less if banana is riper)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups almond flour

1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

½ tsp salt

2-3 tbsp creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or grease pan.
  3. In a small bowl, mash banana with a fork.
  4. Add mashed banana, pumpkin, eggs, avocado oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract to a high-speed blender, and blend on medium until smooth.
  5. Add almond flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt to the blender, and blend again until smooth and well combined.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Pour batter into the loaf pan and smooth out with a spatula. Drop spoonfuls of peanut butter on top of batter, and use a knife to swirl throughout. Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips, if desired.
  8. Bake for 30-45 minutes until edges are just starting to brown.
  9. Let cool before cutting into 8 squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.

I hope you guys love these pumpkin spice treats! Tag your photos with #Daisybeet so I can see your creations 🙂

Dietetic Internships: How to Prepare + My Tips to Land Your Dream DI


This post is dedicated to all you nutrition students and RD-to-be’s. As somebody who finally finished the long road towards becoming a dietitian, I know the struggle. I understand how intense the coursework is and how the daunting the internship application process feels. I can also tell you that the hard work is ABSOLUTELY worth it. I have never been more proud of myself than after passing the RD exam. It’s an amazing feeling knowing your hard work has led you to a career you are passionate about. In this post, I hope to address some questions I've frequently been asked about the path to getting a dietetic internship.

Depending on what stage of your education you are in, you can always do different things to prepare for the internship and make yourself a competitive, desirable candidate. I’ll break it down into a timeline about what you can do to make yourself stand out.

If you’re still in your DPD courses:

  • Now is the time to really put in a lot of the grunt work. You’re probably balancing a full, challenging course load. While grades are not everything, it is important that you do well in your DPD courses. I spent many of my nights and weekend days during this time in the library, keeping on top of my schoolwork and studying very hard. This is also a great time to build relationships with professors who you’ll ask for recommendations for your application. Go to office hours and try to interact outside the classroom, if you can.
    Why? Internships like to see that you not only understand the complex material from your classes, but also that you are a hard worker. Good grades are evidence of these both!
  • I know keeping up with your classes is a full-time job, but start seeking out opportunities to volunteer at a hospital. Many hospitals accept student volunteers to help with the nutrition or food service department. If you can’t get into a hospital, try another type of acute care or long-term care facility. You should have at least 6 months of consecutive volunteer experience by the time you apply for the internship, so plan accordingly.
    Why? Working in a hospital is not the most glamorous environment. Internships want to see you’ve spent time here because a vast majority of your internship is spent in a hospital. This will show them that you understand how a hospital works (to some extent), and were able to handle seeing some potentially unpleasant things (blood, very sick patients, etc.).
  • In your free time, I recommend saying YES to as many nutrition-related opportunities that come your way. This may mean attending talks at your school, interning with private practice dietitians, or even just keeping up with the latest nutrition research by reading journal articles. The more exposure, the better! I got a part time job at a Soul Cycle studio, and even though it was not directly nutrition related, it was still a health and wellness company that helped me develop invaluable people skills and flexibility. I can confidently say that experience played a big role in helping me land the NYU internship.
    Why? Nutrition is a science, and science is always changing. Staying up to date and in the know about the latest research and best practices is something required of a dietitian, so why not start now? This is also a great time to explore the many paths you can take as an RD. By giving your time to these opportunities, you will learn more about what you want to do with your career.

If you’re applying for your DI:

  • You’re wrapping up the last of your DPD courses, and the internship is your next step. This is a very exciting time, but it can also feel overwhelming. The first thing to think about is, what is important for YOU in your internship? For me, that was location. I only applied to internships in New York City and Boston. For others, location may not be a concern (and to be honest, this will give you an advantage. A general rule of thumb for DIs is that those in major cities tend to be more competitive and harder to get into, because more people are applying).
    Why? Deciding what your main internship priority is will greatly help you narrow down where to apply. You’ll have more time to research those internships you’re truly interested in, and spend less time sorting through all the other programs.
  • Fill out your DICAS application. It doesn’t take a ton of time, but it’s important that you go through it carefully. Double and triple check for typos, spelling errors and formatting. Check out the essays each program requires, and start writing! Be authentic, concise, and honest in your essays. I also HIGHLY recommend you have a few people edit your essays and give you feedback. I was lucky to have my boyfriend’s brother & sister-in-law edit mine, and it really brought my essay to the next level.
    Why? The internships know nothing about you, and your application is their first impression. Make that impression perfect! Also, each program may have a different essay question, so you want to make sure the each essay is tailored to each program.
  • Ask for recommendations. I recommend professors/supervisors that are RDs or in a nutrition-related field that know you well. I also suggest asking EARLY. While they will be happy to write your recommendation, they are busy people and things get lost along the way! Giving them time will help them craft a better picture of you, and will give you time to follow up.
  • Rank your internship programs honestly. From my knowledge, matching will always work in your favor. Don’t play mind games with yourself, and put your top choice first, even if it is a reach!

If you’ve applied:

  • Congratulations! It’s such a relief to submit your application. First off, relax and give yourself a moment to breathe. Then, take the time to write a thank you note to those who gave your recommendations.
    Why? Life is about balance! Relaxing is necessary so you don’t burn out. And thank you notes are polite, and will help you keep up meaningful relationships.
  • If the internship programs you applied to have interviews, start preparing. What I did to prepare was think of tons of different possible internship questions, and corresponding scenarios/examples from my own experiences that would answer these questions. It helped to type them, then practice SPEAKING them many times. Coming from an introvert, I HATED doing this (and still do), but it was essential to answering interview questions confidently. It also helps to get together with your friends to practice with each other. Try to think of examples of the following scenarios:

- A challenge you’ve faced, and how you dealt with it
- Leadership skills you possess/a scenario in which you were a leader
- Examples of teamwork/working well with others
- Other desirable skills outside of the classroom that you have developed
- How you stay up to date with the latest nutrition research
- Your best qualities, and your biggest weakness
- Adjectives a previous boss/supervisor would use to describe you
- Why you are a stand-out candidate

  • The day of your interview: arrive 10-15 minutes early. Bring copies of your resume. Dress in something appropriate, but also something you are comfortable wearing. After your interview, send your interviewers a thank you note sometime that afternoon or the morning after.
  • You can re-rank your program choices again, so once all your interviews are finished, think about if your top choice has changed. I still believe putting YOUR top choice is the right move, even if you think you have a better chance at an internship elsewhere.

And now, you wait. On match day, be kind to yourself and keep yourself busy. I went to work in the morning, then took a barre class and did some light studying in the evening. BREATHE. If you’ve worked hard and prepared well, odds are, you will match. If you DON’T match, I promise you this is not the end of the road. I have many friends from the NYU internship that did not match the first round they applied. Not matching does NOT make you any less of a strong candidate. Don’t let it affect your self-esteem! Use the time between now and the next match round to make yourself an EVEN STRONGER candidate. If you put your mind to it, you will make it happen!

I hope this post was helpful to all those pursuing their RD certification! I truly know how long of a road it is, and how sometimes, you honestly feel like you’re drowning. Again, I promise you it is worth it! Be patient, keep hustling, and you’ll land your dietetic internship!

Budget-Friendly Grocery Shopping for a Nutritious Week

Do you ever feel overwhelmed when you go to the grocery store, and walk out having spent over 100 dollars on who knows what? (To be honest, this happens to me every time I go into Target). I understand this feeling, and know that one of the biggest perceived barriers to eating well is cost. As a graduate student living in New York City, I’ve become very adept at living on a budget. I’ve learned that grocery shopping and preparing most of my own meals is the best way to stick to a budget. I’ve also learned that with a little planning, shopping for and preparing delicious, healthy meals is easy and fun! I spend between 40 and 60 dollars a week on groceries – and this gets me through a majority of my meals (save for 2-3 meals out, mostly on weekends). Here are my biggest tips to staying within budget, saving time, and eating well by preparing meals at home.

  1. Do your research. Take a look at the grocery stores in your area you are willing to travel to. For some, there may be only one or two options, but if you are like me, there are probably 10 grocery stores within a half mile radius. Figure out which store has the best prices without compromising on quality. Trader Joe’s is my favorite for affordable, consistently high quality products!
  2. Form your plan. Before you shop, decide what you are going to cook for the week. For lunches, I like to prepare a big salad with 2-3 raw veggies, an inexpensive protein like hardboiled eggs or canned tuna, and a simple homemade vinaigrette. For dinners, decide on a few easy recipes that store well for a few days in the fridge. The majority of my meals are actually not “recipes,” rather, they are simple combinations of a lean protein source, simply prepared vegetables, and a complex carbohydrate. For example, baked salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts and cinnamon-paprika sweet potato fries.
  3. Shop the sales. Take a look at the sales flyer for your grocery store (or check online – Whole Foods posts their sale items by store) to figure out what is on sale that week. Usually, the produce on sale is also seasonal, so you’ll be saving money and eating in-season, flavorful food at the same time!
  4. Choose mostly plant-based meals. Contrary to what many people think, eating a plant-based diet is actually quite inexpensive. Meat and poultry are some of the most expensive items in grocery stores. Trying more vegetarian proteins is good for your health AND your wallet. Some examples are canned beans, eggs, frozen edamame and tofu.
  5. Block off 2 to 3 hours. You’ll want to have some time to shop, but you also need to prepare the food once you get home! Blocking off a few hours once a week to prep everything in advance will make weeknights easier and help you avoid ordering take out knowing the fridge is stocked with a fully or partially prepared meal.
  6. Make a list. Once your meal plan is set, make a list of all the ingredients you need. If you have time, it helps to organize the list by category – produce, grains, canned goods, etc. IMPORTANT: Check your pantry and fridge to see what you already have on hand. There have been more times than I can count that I come home with a carton of eggs or bag of oatmeal, only to find one unopened when I return! This step reduces food waste and saves you storage space and money.
  7. Don’t shop hungry. Go to the store after you’ve eaten a nice meal or snack. Shopping while hungry may lead to you stray from your list as you see snacks that become temptations. Shopping on a full stomach will help you stick to the plan and keep you within budget.
  8. Pump the jams. Once you return from shopping, put on your favorite tunes and get cooking! Start with the items that will take the longest to cook, such as roasting vegetables, then move on to the quicker tasks, like chopping lettuce or making a vinaigrette.

Follow these tips, and after a few weeks, you’ll be a grocery shopping pro! I may even go so far as to say you’ll ENJOY it J For a little more inspiration, I’ve attached a simple shopping list to use. Print out a copy, or make your own to help get started.

Daisybeet Shopping List for One

I would love to see your shopping successes and meal prep masterpieces on Instagram. Tag #Daisybeet so I can check them out!

Chocolate Chip Almond Flour Blender Banana Bread

Hi guys! Thank you for following along with my journey to this website. I am so incredibly grateful for your support! I’ve been wanting to get this up and running for a while so that I can share more details about my life and provide inspiration for a healthy, balanced life. As some of you know, I recently became a Registered Dietitian (RD). I’ve worked very hard to get here, and could not be happier to be considered a nutrition expert. One thing I admire about dietetics so much is that it is a science-backed field. I can’t wait to share recipes and lifestyle tips that are based off of scientific evidence.

 

One of my goals for this blog is to share “RD approved” recipes. The recipes I share on this blog (and through my Instagram) will all meet certain evidence-based criteria. This way, you know when you create them for yourself, you are making a nutritionally balanced recipe that you can feel good about eating. In each recipe, I will also share the health benefits of some highlighted ingredients.

 

I am so excited to share this recipe with you all – it’s definitely a keeper! I love this recipe for many reasons. First, and most importantly, it is absolutely delicious! You would never know there is no processed flour and is only sweetened with banana and a minimal amount of maple syrup. Second, it is full of nutritious ingredients. Third, it is SO easy to make! I love one bowl recipes, and this one is a one BLENDER recipe!

Here are some of the highlighted ingredients:

 

And the nutrition breakdown:

  • Bananas: Bananas are rich in potassium, which is an essential mineral and an important electrolyte. Potassium has many functions in your body, such as maintaining fluid balance, lowering blood pressure, and regulating muscle contractions.
  • Almond Flour: Nuts are an excellent addition to a healthy diet! They are full of the “healthy” unsaturated fats to keep you full, a good source of plant-based protein, and contain important micronutrients and minerals. Almonds are always a great choice – even in almond flour form – because they are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and low in saturated fat. Make sure the almond flour you’re purchasing has just one ingredient – almonds!
  • Eggs: Eggs are one of my favorite vegetarian protein sources. They protein in eggs is one of the highest in terms of bioavailability – this means that pretty much all the protein in eggs will be utilized by your body. Egg yolks are a good source of Vitamin D (a vitamin many of us are deficient in) and choline, which is another heart-healthy nutrient.
  • Primal Palate Apple Pie Spice: Spices in general are an important part of a healthy diet. Not only can they reduce sodium intake by contributing delicious flavors and aromas to food, but spices also have nutritional actions of their own. Ginger, found in Primal Palate Apple Pie Spice, can help with nausea and an upset stomach, and may also be anti-inflammatory. Cinnamon is full of antioxidants, and may also be anti-inflammatory.

These superstar ingredients all combine to make this RD Approved Recipe. Ready to get baking?

 

Ingredients

2 medium-large very ripe bananas

2 large eggs

3 tbsp avocado oil

2-3 tbsp maple syrup or honey (can use less if bananas are riper)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups almond flour

1 tsp Primal Palate Apple Pie Spice

½ tsp salt

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or grease pan.
  3. In a small bowl, mash bananas with a fork.
  4. Add mashed bananas, eggs, avocado oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract to a high-speed blender, and blend on medium until smooth.
  5. Add almond flour, apple pie spice, baking powder and salt to the blender, and blend again until smooth and well combined.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Pour batter into the loaf pan and smooth out with a spatula. Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips, if desired.
  8. Bake for 30-45 minutes until edges are just starting to brown
  9. Let cool before slicing. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.

 

I hope you guys enjoy this recipe as much as I do! Tag your photos with #Daisybeet so I can see your creations 🙂